We see a new building or tower being built around us every other year, but have you ever thought if they were sustainable? Yes, a building being sustainable; means, it minimizes the negative impact on the environment by using efficient design and materials. Sustainable architecture uses a conscious approach to energy, development space, and the ecosystem at large through its design principles.
Even though sustainable architectural practices are not very common, the impact they would have on the environment is significant. Sustainable Architecture is a very broad concept encompassing a spectrum from City Planning to Apartments to Individual Houses. To make things a little simpler, we shall limit our discussion to Sustainable Architectural practices in Apartments and Individual Houses. Here are a few practices we should know and inculcate them in our house design for a greener, cleaner, energy-efficient, and eco-friendly home. These practices can be easily inculcated while designing an Apartment or an Individual House.
Water certainly is going to be a scarce resource in the coming days. Many cities experience extreme scarcity of water and in many others, water comes at a cost of huge water bills. Rainwater Harvesting can be the go-to solution.
Rainwater harvesting is a simple and well-known practice to save and conserve rainwater. Rainwater Harvesting system collects all the rainwater from your roof and other elevated areas of your house and directs it to your regular water storage unit. The stored water can then be utilized in household chores. Excessive water that is collected can be diverted to the groundwater pit, which can be a great source to increase the groundwater level of the nearby vicinity. It is a simple process that gets done soon while you could still stay on your budget.
Greywater is water used in bathroom and kitchen sinks, bathtub, water from dishwashers and washing machines, and your shower. The water could look a little dirty with traces of food and washing material in it, but it is perfect to be recycled and reused.
A simple greywater recycling system works step by step. First comes the collection of greywater from all the outlets in a sedimentary container next, the filtering process followed by a storage setup, and finally using the recycled water from the storage unit.
Graywater Harvesting is a great way to increase the usage cycle of already used water by reusing it for other activities such as watering the plants and in the toilet.
Having plants certainly changes the look and feel of the house. Plants make places more lively and livable. They add the much needed Green Element to your house which is extremely relaxing and pleasant. But apart from the aesthetics and the feel, they do a great job in maintaining the air quality and the temperature of the house. In the olden days, creepers from gardens were grown on walls of the houses and roofs. It kept the house cool and pleasant.
Here are a few ways in which you could enhance greenery in your house:
- Vertical Gardens:
We see this set up in most of the metro stations. It is a beautiful way to grow plants and save water at the same time. The pants in pots would be fixed on the wall or pillar in several rows for as long as the wall or pillar is; when watered, the excess water from one pot would drip down onto the other. If you have a pillar or an empty wall, this might suit your the best.
- Green Roofs:
A green roof or living roof is a roof of a building that is covered with greens/plants and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing coating over the roof. It may also include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems. It would keep the house/space below the roof cool while giving out oxygen. Your terrace garden can be your happy place in the house, bringing you close to nature in your urban lifestyle.
Install Green Energy Sources
Install solar water heaters and solar panels on the roof. The energy from these solar cells could be converted to electrical energy and used. While this set up requires a considerable one-time investment, it pays off really well in the future. Your will electricity bill can be reduced to more than half and you can break even in a matter of 2-3 years. It’s a great deal.
By using solar energy, you are not only helping the environment but also saving a considerable amount of money off of your electricity bill.
- Bagasse Particle Board
Bagasse is the residual pulp from sugarcane after extracting the juice. A considerable amount of excess bagasse generated from sugar mills is left to rot or burnt as fuel for boilers. This by-product is used as a substitute for wood in particle boards that are light and low cost.
Bagasse-based composites offer potential as the core material for laminated floors, replacing high-density and expensive wood fiber-board.
- Plastic Bricks
The concept of plastic bricks originated in Africa. During an experimental project financed by the European Union, plastic bags were melted and transformed into bricks with a cement mold saving both money and time.
They were initially used to cover up potholes. They could be a potential replacement for traditional cement or soil bricks.
- Rice Husk Ash Concrete
Rice Husk Ash (RHA) is produced after the incineration of rice husks. It could be used as an admixture for concrete. They could be used to make concrete blocks.
These blocks are strong because silica present in Rice husk ash combines with the calcium hydroxide resulting in excellent resistance to acidic environments.
Keep it Bright and Airy
It is essential to construct houses or buildings in such a way that we make use of the already available fresh air and sunlight. Review your construction design plans and mention this requirement to your Architects. Plan windows in such a way that the room gets enough sunlight and fresh air.
Build an open courtyard to bring in the natural light and greenery inside your homes. Plenty of natural sunlight not only saves you from paying a hefty sum for your electricity but also keep your house dry and free from any infestation. Cross ventilation maintains the natural flow of air and thus keeps your house cool by bringing in lots of fresh air.
These are a few suggestions or practices we could adapt and keep the environment around us safe. These practices could be the future of construction looking at the number of benefits they provide.